Markets running scared as European fears return

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti speaks with traders while visiting the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on February 10, 2012 in New York City. There are now renewed fears of Italy or Spain defaulting after months of relative calm in the markets.

Jeremy Hobson: U.S. stocks had their worst day of the year yesterday. We'll have the details in a moment when we do the numbers. But first let's talk about a possible cause for the fear on Wall Street. Analysts say the European debt crisis is back after months of relative calm.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard joins us now live from London with more on this. Good morning Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello Jeremy.

Hobson: What sparked these renewed fears?

Beard: Well, we could say it's your fault: the U.S. job figures. This was a delayed reaction -- European markets were closed on Monday, so yesterday was their first chance to react to these rather disappointing figures. And part of the calm here in recent weeks has been due to the belief that the U.S. recovery would help pull the eurozone out of trouble. That rosy scenario is now in doubt.

Hobson: So you're saying, it's not you, it's us?

Beard: Not entirely. There are renewed doubts about growth in Spain and Italy. Worries about whether these governments going to raise enough tax revenue to pay their debts.

Raising the specter of default -- this is all generally worrying, says Bronwen Curtis of HSBC.

Bronwen Curtis: I think we should be worried because this is continuing. We haven't solved the European problem. We had a nice period of stability, but it's not going away.

So, same old fears -- this time, will Spain, even Italy perhaps default, and what effect would that have on the euro?

Hobson: Fell like we've been here before, Stephen. And I wonder: does the potential exist for things to really flare up like they did last fall, or are some of the systemic problems now taken care of?

Beard: I think deep down, investors feel that the central banks -- like the Fed and the European Central Bank -- will ride to the rescue and turn on the money tap if a global recession threatens.
 
Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London, thanks a lot.

Beard: OK, Jeremy.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...